2.2m kids in con­flict ar­eas risk be­ing left be­hind

New Straits Times - - World -

KUALA LUMPUR: About 2.2 mil­lion chil­dren liv­ing in re­mote, con­flict-hit parts of Myan­mar could be left be­hind as the coun­try rapidly de­vel­ops fol­low­ing decades of mil­i­tary rule, the United Na­tions said yes­ter­day.

The United Na­tions Chil­dren’s Fund (Unicef) called for greater hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­cess to en­sure that young­sters in the coun­try had a bright fu­ture.

The Myan­mar mil­i­tary ceded power to a nom­i­nally civil­ian gov­ern­ment in 2011 af­ter nearly half a cen­tury of iron-fisted rule, ush­er­ing in re­forms and open­ing one of South­east Asia’s poor­est coun­tries to for­eign in­vestors.

Although so­cial and eco­nomic measures rolled out by the gov­ern­ment since then have helped im­prove health, ed­u­ca­tion and pro­tec­tion for chil­dren, Unicef said chil­dren in the coun­try’s re­mote parts were yet to ben­e­fit.

“Myan­mar faces a real chal­lenge in en­sur­ing that chil­dren ev­ery­where, and not just in ur­ban ar­eas, gain from the coun­try’s rapid de­vel­op­ment,” Unicef deputy ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Justin Forsyth said.

The agency said a sec­ond ma­jor peace con­fer­ence with eth­nic armed groups tak­ing place in Myan­mar this week was an op­por­tu­nity for the gov­ern­ment to com­mit to stronger pro­tec­tions for chil­dren, who ac­count for about a third of the coun­try’s 53 mil­lion peo­ple. Reuters

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